Low-carb diets are enjoying renewed popularity, thanks to celebrities who credit the ketogenic, Paleo, and Atkins diets for their stunning weight loss and improved health.
Kim Kardashian and Sharon Osbourne have both lost weight (a combined 86 pounds) by following a ketogenic-style Atkins diet, Linda O'Byrne, chief nutritionist for Atkins, told me in an exclusive interview.
Kardashian lost 56 pounds in six months on a LCHF diet that limited her daily carb intake to less than 60 grams, while Osbourne limited her carb intake to 25 grams a day, said O'Byrne.
Similarly, Megan Fox, Tim McGraw, Adriana Lima, Kellan Lutz and Robin Wright all follow the Paleo diet, which proponents say prevents diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer's, in addition to enhancing weight loss.
While the Paleo diet has been touted as a weight-loss tool, the diet's creator, Dr. Loren Cordain, said the eating plan was originally intended to prevent disease.
"The idea we had had little to do with weight control,” said Dr. Cordain, author of The Paleo Answer. “We were more interested in cardiovascular effects, cancer, acne and myopia. It is a lifelong way of eating to reduce the risk of chronic disease.”
Dr. Cordain, who also wrote The Paleo Diet Cookbook, said marketing the Paleo diet as a weight-loss tool was his editor's idea, to make the diet appeal to a larger audience. Despite his initial reluctance to push Paleo as a weight loss plan, recent studies show it beats almost every other diet for weight loss.
Mainstream Media Reverses Anti-Fat Stance
The notion of celebrities and supermodels embracing high-fat diets represents a seismic shift, since Hollywood's "beautiful people" have traditionally followed the low-fat diet prescribed by nutrition experts for the past 40 years.
But a sea change is afoot, as new scientific reports suggest unprocessed saturated fat is healthy, and a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet beats low-fat diets for weight loss, and has other health benefits, including preventing diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, depression and cancer.
The LCHF momentum has been building since the Fall of 2013, when cardiologists Aseem Malhotra and Rajiv Chowdhury both declared that unprocessed saturated fat is healthy in separate reports for the BMJ and the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The war on saturated fat came full circle last week after Time magazine — which had slammed saturated fat as unhealthy since 1977 — reversed its stance, saying the 40-year demonization of fat was based on flawed scientific data. Scientists say a high-carb diet is actually to blame for the tsunami of obesity, heart disease and diabetes rampant today.
Obesity Experts: Eat Fat and Get Thin
The vindication of saturated fat is not surprising to obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, who has long advocated low-carb, high-fat eating plans like the ketogenic and Atkins diets.
According to Westman, LCHF diets produce rapid weight loss without exercise, and combat virtually every degenerative disease known to man.
Dr. Westman, director of the Duke University Obesity Clinic, has helped hundreds of morbidly obese people lose thousands of pounds on the ketogenic and Atkins diets. He is pleased that mainstream media is finally debunking the myth that eating fat makes you fat and sick. To the contrary, he said: Eating fat makes you skinny and healthy.
"I tell my patients not to fear the fat," said Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity. "Eat lots of fat. Fat makes you feel full. There's no problem with fat. In fact, saturated fat — the fat that we've been taught not to eat — raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat."
Similarly, Dr. Jeff Volek, a registered dietitian and professor at Ohio State University, told me the ketogenic diet improves mood and reduces inflammation, which is what fuels disease. Volek, author of The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living, said the LCHF ketogenic diet is beneficial both for elite endurance athletes and the average sedentary individual.
"There are very few people that a ketogenic diet could not help," said Dr. Volek, who has followed the ketogenic diet for the past 20 years. "Carbohydrate restriction is the proverbial ‘silver bullet’ for managing insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes."